Miami Pro Day: Mallory, Stevenson and 10 other Canes perform en route to their NFL dreams
Final-Four-bound University of Miami basketball drew the national headlines Monday, but football and NFL prospects grabbed the spotlight at Greentree Field and the Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility.
College scouts and representatives from 31 of 32 NFL teams gathered to watch 12 Hurricanes run, jump, lift and perform drills at UM’s annual Pro Day. The Dolphins had two college scouts observing. Current Hurricanes coach Mario Cristobal and his staff watched from the sidelines — along with former Canes greats.
“It’s always good seeing younger guys compete in hopes of getting to where they want to be,’’ said Cleveland Browns tight end and former Canes star David Njoku, who was selected 29th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft. “Best of luck to them all. I expect to see some of them playing against me next year.’’
Antrel Rolle, a former Canes cornerback star and the eighth overall pick (Arizona Cardinals) in the 2005 Draft, told the Miami Herald that “this is the day that makes or breaks.’’
“To me, this was everything,’’ Rolle said. “When I went to the [NFL] Combine, I just did the bench press and interviewed with the coaches and teams and that was pretty much it. But when I was here, this is where we performed. This is where we set the trend.’’
The Canes who performed Monday: cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, punter Lou Hedley, tight end Will Mallory, offensive lineman Justice Oluwaseun, running back Lucious Stanley, offensive lineman DJ Scaife, running back Devon Perry, defensive lineman Mitchell Agude, cornerback DJ Ivey, linebacker Caleb Johnson, defensive lineman Antonio Moultrie and linevacker Waynmon Steed.
Only Mallory and Stevenson were invited to the recent NFL Scouting Combine, so they skipped the 40-yard runs and performed on a limited basis. The other 10 used the day to impress as much as they could. All have NFL aspirations, many have interviewed with NFL teams, but most are aware their dreams are anything but a lock. Several will sign as undrafted free agents. Others could eventually end up signing to practice squads.
“It was fun,’’ said Oluwaseun, who transferred to Miami from UNLV before the 2021 season and was derailed this season by an injury. “I’m just honored to be out here again. It’s been a little bit since I’ve been on the field. Always room for improvement. But overall, as a collective group, we did pretty well.’’
Oluwaseun needed surgery to repair torn ligament in his right ankle and is still “getting rid of the rust” as he continues to heal. He did 33 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press Monday. He said the Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, Las Vegas Raiders and Houston Texans “have reached out’’ to talk to him.
“It’s been a journey,’’ he said. “Slowly but surely I’m marking off the boxes and able to do what I wasn’t able to do before.”
Stevenson, who transferred to UM from Georgia before the 2021 season, said he trimmed down from 207 pounds to “now 197, 196” by changing his eating habits. Projections have him going anywhere from Day Two’s second round to the final day (fourth through seventh rounds) of the April 27-29 draft in Kansas City, Missouri. He said teams have explored his playing nickelback and safety.
“I’ve been putting in the work for so long,’’ said Stevenson, who noted he speaks to Rolle for guidance. “I just love the game of football. Whatever selection I get picked with...once I’m in the door, I’m just going to give my all.’’
Fellow defensive back Ivey said he weighed in at 6-0 and 189 pounds and had a 39-inch vertical jump with a 4.43 40-yard dash. His broad jump, he said, was 10-feet, 6-inches, and he said he did 12 bench-press reps.
UM reported that Johnson ran an unofficial 4.47 twice.
“Everyone dreams to get drafted,’’ Ivey said, but regardless of that, “I’m just going to make the best of my opportunities. That’s all I need, an opportunity.’’
Mallory, whose draft stock has risen since running the fastest 40-yard dash time among tight ends at the NFL combine (4.54 seconds), drew cheers and applause with some impressive catches Monday — thrown by none other than current UM quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.
“I wouldn’t want anyone else to throw to me,’’ Mallory said. “For him to be able to do that, it meant a lot. That’s my guy. I feel comfortable with him.’’
As for those UM basketball phenoms, Stevenson, for one, said he’s “all in.’’
“They’re making history, just being able to go out there and put the University of Miami on the map. Very proud of the program.’’
UM senior quality control analyst Cody Woodiel, who was an Oregon offensive analyst under Mario Cristobal, is being promoted to tight ends coach for the Hurricanes. Woodiel came to Oregon in 2017 as an offensive graduate assistant.
Current UM tight ends coach Stephen Field, known as a strong recruiter, will stay in the program in a prominent recruiting role among other responsibilities, a source said. Field joined the UM staff before the 2019 season. He also was with Cristobal at Oregon, where in 2018 he was the director of recruiting and helped the Ducks get the best class in Oregon history.
Woodiel was an offensive line coach at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi, as well as an O-line coach for a few months with Murray State. He is from Hernando, Mississippi. He was an offensive lineman and tight end in 2011-12 at Troy.
“He’s a great coach,’’ Mallory said Monday of Woodiel. “He’s one of my all-time favorites. His knowledge, his passion for the game are at the top. One of the best I’ve seen.
“Coach Field is my guy, too. I’ve had an unbelievable experience with him the last four years. The fact we can have both these guys on staff is special.’’
.@CanesFootball Will Mallory was fastest TE at Combine.
His 4.54 official time made some NFL scouts go back to re-check the tape.
Here’s what they saw .
Sure you have @WillMallory_25 ranked high enough?#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE️ pic.twitter.com/YDO9LYLqxO
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 27, 2023